ALBANY, NY – As New York lawmakers continue their series of virtual hearings on the effects of COVID-19, today’s focus was on hospitals across the state.
NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on how state officials and those in the healthcare field say the virus continues to make an impact.
In the thick of the pandemic this spring New York State took several steps to increase the bed space in hospitals including the cancellation of elective surgeries.
((Howard Zucker, NYS Health Commissioner)) The first challenge we recognized as New York’s COVID-19 surge began, was that our 53,000 statewide licensed bed capacity needed to be drastically and dramatically increased to meet a demand that some statistical models placed as high as 140,000 beds.
But, even as the state has ‘flattened the curve’ and the newest state data shows only 558 patients hospitalized with COVID, hospitals, especially rural ones, are facing financial difficulties.
((Pamela Helming, NYS Senator)) These hospitals, they’ve been operating on incredibly thin margins for the past several years. Now with the additional burdens associated with the lost revenue due to the mandate to cancel elective surgeries, on top of all the investments that they had to make to prepare for the pandemic, these hospitals are experiencing significant financial challenges.
((Kenneth Raske, GNYHA President)) We’re seeing a decrease in the volume and therefore the revenue function. Also included in that is that the payer mix is changed. And it is becoming more problematic for our institutions, fewer commercial payments as a result, the transfer to medicaid.
Another topic was PPE. While the state says it distributed 24 million pieces of PPE, lawmakers say front-line workers still voiced concerns over having enough equipment.
((Howard Zucker, NYS Health Commissioner)) I can tell you that going forward this is part of why the Governor’s put in place the 90-day amount of PPE.
Health Commissioner Howard Zucker was also asked again today for the number of nursing home residents who contracted the coronavirus and then later died in hospitals.
Again he said that he needed to look over the data before providing it to lawmakers.